A California man who unwittingly bought financial institution accounts to Russians meddling in U.S. elections resides in a “fixed state of worry” after changing into a authorities cooperator, his legal professional mentioned in a court docket submitting Wednesday.
Richard “Ricky” Pinedo has obtained dying threats after testifying earlier than a grand jury and serving to particular counsel Robert Mueller safe an indictment towards 13 Russians accused in an elaborate plot to disrupt the 2016 presidential election, his legal professional, Jeremy Lessem, mentioned in court docket papers.
The 28-year-old Santa Paula man pleaded responsible in February to utilizing stolen identities to arrange financial institution accounts that have been then utilized by the Russians. Prosecutors have acknowledged he didn’t know that he was coping with Russians.
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Arguing that his shopper ought to solely be sentenced to probation, Lessem mentioned in court docket papers that Pinedo has accepted full accountability for his actions and supplied “essential perception into inner flaws embedded within the on-line monetary verification system.”
Pinedo, who’s scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 10, has supplied investigators with “vital help” in identification theft probes, prosecutors mentioned. He flew to Washington, D.C., to satisfy with investigators, defined how he obtained the stolen account numbers and gave investigators enterprise data that recognized the consumers of the stolen accounts, prosecutors mentioned in a separate court docket submitting.
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Federal sentencing tips name for Pinedo to serve between 12 and 18 months behind bars, however noting his cooperation, prosecutors didn’t suggest any explicit sentence.
From 2014 till 2017, Pinedo bought the checking account numbers of actual folks after which bought the account numbers to nameless clients on the web, incomes between $40,000 and $95,000, in response to prosecutors. Pinedo by no means had entry to the names, Social Safety numbers or addresses of any of his victims and by no means noticed himself as a thief, Lessem mentioned.
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Pinedo first realized he was within the FBI’s crosshairs when federal brokers raided his household’s dwelling in December 2017. With no promise of immunity, Pinedo sat down with investigators from the particular counsel’s workplace and agreed to testify earlier than a grand jury that was investigating Russian interference within the 2016 presidential election, in response to Lessem.
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Since then, Pinedo has observed “unusual unidentified automobiles” parked exterior of his dwelling, is not going to journey exterior of the U.S. and suffers from nervousness driving round his neighborhood, Lessem mentioned.
“Past the mere reality that he’s now a convicted felon, Mr. Pinedo has suffered, and can proceed to endure, in methods far past what anybody else convicted of the same offense would anticipate – and suffers these penalties because of serving to this Nation proper the flawed his unwitting and silly legal conduct facilitated,” he wrote.